It has been 22 years since two gunmen walked into Columbine High School and carried out what was once the most horrific mass shooting in U.S. history. The shooters killed 13 people and wounded 24 others before ending their own lives. On April 20, we remember the lives that were lost, and the countless other lives that were changed forever on on this day in 1999 through touching tributes shared across Twitter.
In a thread that was put together by Quinn Hopp on Twitter, we get a look into the stories of some of the people who lost their lives 22 years ago, like Dave Sanders. The teacher and coach is credited with saving hundreds of lives by alerting students and faculty in the cafeteria to the gunshots.
A former student of Mr. Sanders commented as well, and shared just how much the teacher loved the work he did. “He was funny, kind, empathetic & he loved his students so much, he’d selflessly protect all of Columbine again,” wrote @katy_fit.
In a thread created by @SkoczSteven, each of the victims is represented by a photo and a bit about their lives, like student Isaiah Eamon Shoels, who at 18 had a love for music, football, and comedy.
“Though he experienced the sting of racial discrimination as a teen, Isaiah had been accepted to the Denver Institute of the Arts, and had dreams of becoming a comedian and a record producer like his father,” the post read.
Former student @GraceReaderTV shared a touching tribute about how proud she is of her former high school. “It’s been 22 years since two gunmen walked into my high school and killed 12 students and a beloved teacher,” she wrote. “I have always, and will always, be proud to represent #Columbine as I move around the country, but especially today. #NeverForget”
It’s been 22 years, but how much has really changed since that April in 1999? In 2020, Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America spoke to SheKnows about the state of gun control in America. Watts’ group, which has been growing since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has been laser focused on growing their base and fighting groups like the NRA.
“We stand on the shoulders of all the women who did that work after Columbine,” Watts told SheKnows. “But now, thanks to technology … we’ve been able to organize this huge grassroots army across the country. We’re now mothers and others, not just moms and women and also Students Demand Action. And that’s really what I think this movement needed was a grassroots army of activists who could go toe-to-toe with the gun lobby. We’ve been doing that now for almost eight years and winning.”
Moms Demand Action has worked on enacting legislation as well as getting behind politicians who share their gun control views.
Some of their major victories include getting more than 20 states to pass laws that require background checks on every gun sale, and growing the number of states that use red-flag laws when it comes to giving law enforcement the ability to remove firearms from those who pose a threat to themselves or others. Changes that seem both monumental considering the good they can do, can also seem small in the scope of how much further they have to go.
But, even as things change they also remain the same. One day after Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed two gun bills into law: HB 21-1106, which The Denver Post reports will require people to secure their firearms when not in use, and SB 21-078, which mandates any lost or stolen firearms be reported to police within five days of their disappearance, America has been rocked by yet another shooting. This time, it happened at a grocery store in West Hempstead, New York.
While we remember those lives lost, and forever changed, on April 20, 1999, it’s important to remember that there is still so much more work to do in order to prevent more tragedies like this from happening in the future.
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